So far this season, center fielder Joc Pederson has had 42 total plate appearances. Only three of those have come against left-handed pitchers, and two of those three ended in strikeouts. It seems like there has been a reduced role for Pederson thus far this season, and the Los Angeles Dodgers are using him more as a platoon piece than centerpiece.
During the early stages of last season, from April 6 to June 3, Joc Pederson had a .998 OPS and slugged 17 home runs. While he did strikeout 64 times, he also walked 35 times. He was fantastic player. But after June 3, Pederson OPS’d .622, which was buoyed by an absurd .319 OBP despite a .177 batting average, and critics began to howl about his deficiencies. Maybe the Dodgers took notice.
But now you have a more philosophical discussion: Should the Dodgers care about player development or the immediate future of the 2016 team? It’s a question the front office has tried to thread the needle between since Andrew Friedman took over. In this regard, the organization has chosen wins over Pederson’s progression.
This is true. Right now, the team has reduced Pederson’s role to that of a player who only plays against right-handed pitchers. And that might be fine for right now. After all, Pederson, who turns 24 on Thursday, is OPS’ing .905 against right-handers this season. If that’s the kind of production they’re going to get, then maybe a platoon is fine.
There are a lot of players on the Dodgers roster who deserve playing time. For instance, Trayce Thompson has a career .963 OPS in 71 plate appearances against lefties. Kiké Hernandez has a career 1.135 OPS in 135 plate appearances against them, as well. You’re going to play them against lefties which, in turn, leaves Pederson the odd man out.
While he does have a reduced role and is being platooned at this moment, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Pederson’s progression and potential are being ruined. In some ways, the front office and managerial staff of the Dodgers are trying to find ways to mitigate a larger issue with Pederson in the hopes that he still reaches his full potential while also making sure the team has the best chance at winning games in 2016.